During the 1960s and early 70s, this was a popular paraphrase of an Eldridge Cleaver quotation: "If you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem."
Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, is part of the problem.
If there was a race to decide which National Football League (NFL) team owner deserves the title of "most racist," it would be close to a dead heat.
While there are many owners in contention for this title, for brevity's sake I will just list a few: There is Stephen Ross. Although this may seem like an odd choice, given that Ross has received accolades for helping the African-American community, his desire to punish players who kneel in protest during the ritualistic playing of the national anthem demonstrates that he is little more than a fair-weather liberal who wants to "play the good guy" by paternalistically helping African-Americans, just as long as they know their place and don't become "uppity Negroes"; there is Daniel Snyder, who pretends that his team's nickname-a racist opprobrium against Native-Americans-actually "honors" Native-Americans; there is Bob McNair, who complained that letting players protest during the anthem was synonymous with letting "inmates run the prison," and who, according to a former player, was "visibly upset" when Barack Obama won the presidency; and there is Mike Brown, who openly rejected former player Eric Reid after Reid refused to agree to end his anthem protests. What makes Mike Brown especially abhorrent is that his father Paul was one of the first coaches to reintegrate football in 1946, and, in 1969, signed Tommie Smith-an African-American Olympic sprinter who, just a year earlier, had outraged white America by protesting during the playing of the national anthem after winning the gold medal in the 200 meter.
But the winner by a nose is Jerry Jones, not because he is any more racist than many NFL owners and executives, but because he proudly wears his racism on his sleeve.
It was Jones who, just a few months ago, threatened to sue the NFL. One of his complaints was that Commissioner Roger Goodell refused to adopt a hardline stance against anthem protestors. And it was Jones who, through his communications with Donald Trump, intertwined the federal government with the NFL, and thus helped make any so-called "anthem policy" subject to constitutional scrutiny.
Recently, the NFL Players Union (NFLPA) challenged the NFL's new policy that required players to either stand during the playing of the anthem or remain in the locker room, and the NFL agreed to suspend this policy and hold talks with the union to reach another solution.
But, naturally, this wasn't good enough, or racist enough, for the autocratic, megalomaniacal Jones. In apparent violation of an NFL edict that owners were not to discuss anthem policies while negotiations were ongoing, Jones recently announced, in keeping with (to use Al Sharpton's words) his "plantation mentality," that he expects his players to "toe the line" and stand during the anthem, and that they will not be allowed to remain in the locker room during it.
Naturally, like many beneficiaries of white privilege, Jones endeavored to camouflage his racism by pretending that he "understood" why African-American players felt the need to protest. But his statement was soon undermined by the fact that he also announced his support for a pizza chain whose former spokesperson had condemned the anthem protests, and who had used the racist "N" word during a conference call.
While I detest the NFL, especially for its treatment of Reid and Colin Kaepernick, I also find it despicable that Jones wants to suckle at the NFL's teat for profit, yet is such a hypocrite that he openly defies its policies while tyrannically demanding that players not defy his.
Even a first-year law student would agree that, when a new law or rule is suspended, the common practice is to revert to the original. In this case, that rule states that players "should" stand during the playing of the national anthem but are not required to.
It is clear that Jones's so-called "policy" explicitly contradicts this rule, and it is my hope that the NFL openly denounces it as unenforceable, and/or the NFLPA files a grievance against it. And if the union wins, Jones should be required to pay any and all legal fees both sides incur.
Of course, what Jones is banking on is that his threats will make players too intimidated to defy him, thus reducing the prospect of a grievance being filed. But, if history is any indication, his optimism might be short-lived.
There are two high profile trials scheduled during the NFL season involving white police officers who shot and killed African-Americans. The first is from a suburb of Dallas, Jones's home turf: The trial of the officer accused of murdering 15-year-old Jordan Edwards is scheduled for August 20th; and the second trial, tentatively set for September 5th, involves the officer who killed Laquan McDonald in Chicago.
While I certainly express hope that both these trials will deviate from the all too predictable pattern of predominantly white juries either being unable to reach a verdict or issuing outright acquittals, what if history repeats itself? Are these NFL players, who are also human beings, supposed to suppress their outrage, and sycophantically grovel before King Jerry and his racist iron-hand?
There are those who endeavor to take succor in the hope that history will revere the sacrifices of Reid and Kaepernick, much like it now reveres John Carlos and Tommie Smith's Olympic protest and the activism of Muhammad Ali.
But why must it always take the passage of years to open one's eyes? Why can't humanity recognize these sacrifices, and the issues that fuel them, in real time? Think how many injustices could have been avoided and how many lives could have been saved.
Some have argued that Jones is trying to suppress the anthem protests because he believes it hurts the prospects of the NFL developing into an international league. But, in a just universe, the opposite would be true: The world outside of the United States would be reviled at the prospect of Ross, Snyder, McNair, Brown, Jones and others of their ilk exporting their repugnant brand of autocratic racism to other nations.
America may be reaching a critical juncture in its history-a time where the meaning of patriotism will either be defined by rich, racist autocrats who view patriotism as a synonym for obsequious obedience, or by people who believe patriotism means having the right to question, to challenge the status-quo, to dissent, to protest, and to think for themselves.
So please use your right to think wisely, because the freedoms that could be lost might one day be your own.
David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Report